1. JadeX
    Offline

    JadeX Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Ohio, U.S. of A.

    Does this sound like a realistic emergency alert? (cell phone)

    Discussion in 'Research' started by JadeX, Mar 7, 2016.

    I've taken a break from my current novel and decided to write a short story instead.
    This short story is from the perspective of an average high school student, taking his final exams and going about his day as usual, when suddenly - literal World War freaking 3 breaks out.

    I've included a very surreal scene in which there is a classroom full of students taking a test, when someone's phone starts beeping and the teacher says to hand it over - nothing out of the ordinary there - but then everyone's phones start beeping. The whole room is filled with beeping cellphones... and the message they get is from the US Government, informing all citizens nationwide that America is under attack.

    I want this to feel as real as possible, so I'd like some help/feedback regarding the message itself - formatting, "official"-sounding wording, all that stuff.
    Here's the message I wrote, this is what everyone is receiving on their cell phones:

    * * EMERGENCY ALERT * *

    DHS confirms two nuclear strikes have taken place against Vandenberg AFB, CA and Los Angeles, CA. Casualties unknown at this time. Civil authorities advise that all persons within a 200-mile radius seek shelter. Keep telephone lines and roadways clear for official use. Check local media for further instructions and updates.



    (Obviously since this has never happened before, we don't know what the message would look like in real life, so I suppose this is a topic worthy of debate and conjecture.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
  2. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,826
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    Hmm, I bet something like this has already been written somewhere in the case that something really were to happen. Just take for example recent events that showed that Ted Turner actually had an "End of the World" video made to be played over CNN in case a nuclear war broke out during the 1980's. So you might have to do some serious research, but I bet it is out there.

     
  3. JadeX
    Offline

    JadeX Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Ohio, U.S. of A.
    Yeah, I know all about all the old Cold War-era alerts and broadcasts. I've collected a few of them actually.

    This, however, is different - this story takes place in present-day, with all the great 21st century technology we have, and this particular alert is being sent out to cell phones via text message. I have no idea what that would look like. I kinda doubt they would have something like that ready, considering cell phones came long after the Cold War and everyone is [disconcertingly] optimistic that it won't happen in modern times. And even if they do, it's almost surely not in the public domain.

    That being said, this is sort of a unique element that I'm not sure you could really "research".
    (Those old TV/radio broadcasts are great, and I will in fact include a TV broadcast as well, but they are far too long-winded for a text message. No way they'd write a paragraph of information like that for a cell phone alert. "Please go to a fallout shelter... fallout is a product of nuclear attacks... take a battery or hand powered radio... seal windows and doors..., etc, etc, blah blah blah. I don't think a text would have all that. Actually, if anything, I'm kind of wondering if my current message is too long!)

    This thread is more for debate and speculation, opinions on the matter. I only put it in the "Research" setting because it's more fitting than anywhere else.
     
  4. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,826
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY

    You missed the point. Obviously they didn't write Emergency text message alerts in the 1980's for your cell phone... :rolleyes:

    I've worked in places where you have to make emergency operation plans for almost any and all kinds of situations. You don't wait until they happen to have this type of stuff prepared. So, just like the Amber Alerts and Emergency Weather Alerts that get broadcast over cell phone text messages, I'm sure they have one prepared in case of a nuclear attack. It would just be a matter of talking to the right person to get an idea of what it might be, and if they will even be able to share it. Otherwise, go with what you have and don't sweat it.
     
    JadeX likes this.
  5. JadeX
    Offline

    JadeX Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Ohio, U.S. of A.
    Yeah, I'm not too concerned about "This has to be exactly like what we would actually see" as I am "Does this seem 'official' enough to feel like an actual government alert?"

    I just want it to be "close enough", and was wondering if anyone had any feedback about what I have and how I could refine it.
     
  6. furzepig
    Offline

    furzepig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2016
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Well, I poked around the DHS website, and I found some equivocal information. There doesn't seem to be a DHS app for bulletins & alerts (two distinct things) the way there is for Amber Alerts and weather alerts. The closest you can get is their Twitter account. The twitter account has sent out exactly one bulletin, and it said this:

    Homeland Security ‏@DHSgov 16 Dec 2015
    NATIONAL TERRORISM ADVISORY SYSTEM: ** BULLETIN **

    More information is available → http://go.usa.gov/cKzzf
    I assume from what they say that in the event of an actual attack, "BULLETIN" would be replaced by "ALERT."

    Here is the template for their alerts:

    https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/15_1214_ntas_sample_elevated_alert.pdf
     
    Lewdog likes this.
  7. JadeX
    Offline

    JadeX Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Ohio, U.S. of A.
    Well, this actually isn't a terrorist attack, rather it is the beginning of a first strike by Russia. So I wonder - assuming such an alert may follow the same form - what it would say instead of "terrorism"... National Civil Advisory System?

    Or would it even be sent by DHS? What about the DoD? Might NORAD send it? Or USSTRATCOM? (<-Strategic Command, that is)
    (I'm leaning toward the latter two, but I'll leave this open for discussion!)
     
  8. furzepig
    Offline

    furzepig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2016
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    What a nest of confusing and overlapping responsibilities . . . :p I think an entity called "the Missile Warning Center," which used to be part of NORAD but now is not, is responsible for communicating about nuclear attacks to all the branches of the military. I didn't see any apparatus for communicating information about missiles directly to the public via cell phones. Probably they have someone who'd call the major news networks, and they would flood the airwaves, 20th century-style.

    Of all the entities you've mentioned, only DHS has mechanisms in place to contact individual citizens directly. Unless you want to fudge the whole thing and decide that next year, the Missile Warning Center puts itself on Twitter (and who says it won't?) I think DHS is the way to go.

    EDIT: Oh, and I like the sound of "National Civil Advisory System." Such a thing should exist, whether or not it does.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  9. JadeX
    Offline

    JadeX Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Ohio, U.S. of A.
    Good point. And I assume this would be one of those "Presidential-level Alerts" (the kind your phone doesn't let you turn off).

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    You know, it's funny, I started this thread asking about my text message alert, but I've decided that seems fine and I'll just leave it, but now I actually could use some help with that television message...

    Just after everyone gets the text alerts, and they tune in to the media as told, they are greeted by an "Emergency Broadcast System" screen and that sharp tone we all love to hate. Then the voiceover comes on, and there's the typical intro that goes like so:
    "This is a national emergency. Important instructions will follow. The following message is transmitted at the request of the United States government. This is not a test."
    Now, this is where they'll start dropping information. In this scenario there would be two categories of information: Situation Reports, and Personal Instructions.

    Situation reports would be like what targets have already been hit, enemy forces inbound, missile launches, likely targets, etc.
    Personal instructions would be like "Move to a shelter or basement, take a radio, do not use the phones, do not travel, do not try to reunite with family, turn off ventilation, beware of fallout, collect food and water, etc."

    Which would be broadcast first? I would assume that the personal instructions would come first and they'd update the details as they become more clear, but what if there are actually Russian submarines directly off the coast that can deliver in less than 5 minutes? Because that's the case in my story. I think some people might like to know that.
    (Then again, those people would basically be toast anyway, so I don't know, maybe they would skip them and just talk to those that actually have a chance.)
     
  10. Ochalis
    Offline

    Ochalis Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    I'm by no means an expert on emergency protocol and such, but before any manner of national broadcasting had effectively sent the country into a panic, wouldn't sirens go off everywhere? I just think that might be an important thing to mention in a story. Correct me if I'm wrong!
     
  11. JadeX
    Offline

    JadeX Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2015
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Ohio, U.S. of A.
    Well, yes and no. On one hand, in many areas, yes there would be attack sirens, which would happen fairly soon after a detected missile launch or bomber strike. People would likely receive alerts via television, radio, text message, [possibly] email, and sirens all within a few short minutes of each other.

    However, on the other hand, the Office of Civil Defense (which operated attack sirens and warnings) was disbanded in 1979 and replaced by FEMA. Between WW2 and the dissolution of the OCD, technology proliferated and made venues such as television and radio more reliable as they could be used to transmit specific details of a threat (whereas a siren basically just says "something is wrong!"). Finally, with the end of the Cold War in 1991, people became increasingly optimistic that the threat of nuclear war was diminishing, and most relics of the Cold War began to be phased out - including fallout shelters, blast shelters, and attack sirens. Many municipalities in modern-day America no longer have Civil Defense sirens for these reasons. (Tornado sirens, common in the Great Plains and Midwest regions, are common, but contrary to popular belief they are not the same thing - to the untrained ear they may sound vaguely similar, but having lived in the Midwest my entire life, I can attest that the two sound nothing alike (also worth mentioning, I once lived in a town that did still have a CD siren, so I have heard both personally.))
    (Additionally, storm sirens are usually operated by local fire or police departments and most likely could not be activated by a federal entity, even if they did decide to use them as a substitute)

    So, in present-day America, would you hear the classic "air raid" sirens in the event of a nuclear attack? Maybe, maybe not. You may as well flip a coin on it.

    [side note: I actually did want to make mention of sirens in my story, but accidentally wrote past it, so thanks for reminding me!]
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
    Ochalis likes this.

Share This Page